Bantam AA Windy City Champs, News (Clarington Minor Hockey Association)

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2019-2020 U15 AA - Bantam AA Windy City Champs
Submitted By Paul Hurtubise on Monday, December 2, 2019
Strong adversaries, bad weather and a bus breakdown could not deter our Bantam AA boys from earning their first tournament championship this year, this past weekend. Despite some unusual setbacks, the entire Team - players, coaches, parents and drivers - pulled together to make the Chicago Thanksgiving Classic a memorable success.

The first two days were routine. A long bus trip on Thurdsay, followed by a tournament game (2-1 victory vs the Bantam AA Chicago Hawks) on Friday morning, then an afternoon NHL game (Colorado 5 : Chicago 2). A caution to other Toros teams headed for any tournaments hosted by "MYHockey Tournaments" this year: icings are called during penalty kills, and you will have to worry about it less if you keep contact to a minimum. Also, if you are visiting Chicago and have the opportunity to go see an event there, the United Center is the home of the Blackhawks and is highly recommended.

Day three, December 1st, started with a bang. The Toros beat the Glenview Stars 7-1 in a game that saw them score 5 in the second period. Afterward, most of the crew then hopped onto the bus to go celebrate at the Woodfield Mall. Similar in size to the Eaton's Centre, it reflects the architectural pride that Chicago is known for. However, don't take an old bus when you go...

We knew there was someting wrong when the vehicle started to jerk and jump, just as Keith (our driver) was getting ready to merge onto the highway back to the Hotel. Time, it seems, had caught up to old horse. It was immediately clear: the bus was breathed its last, and the Toros were now stranded in Chicago! 

Would the the team make it to the next game? Most of the players were on the bus. The rink and the hotel were about 40 minutes away, and it would take several hours to get a replacement. The coaches warned about the rules: forfeiture of a game means forfeiture of the playoff round. The whole tournament, indeed the whole reason for the trip, hung in the balance.

Enter the Super Hockey Moms, who quickly (and almost casually!) took control of the situation. While the driver worked on getting the team a new ride, the moms got all the stranded passengers off the stricken bus and onto Uber vehicles. Everyone pitched in to cover the logistics of it all; who could go straight to the arena vs who needed to detour to the hotel first; who whad whose phone number and could text or call instructions and information; and the parents who had driven to the tournament stepped up and taxied people wherever they could. In the end, there was no one left behind, and everyone got to watch the boys take game three from the West Dundee Leaf 2-1, securing top spot in the tournament and a berth in Sunday's Final.

The Final itself, on Sunday, was a hard-fought affair. The West Dundee Leaf are a very talented team, tenacious and smart. Both sides were very closely matched, and the outcome remained in doubt right up until the final buzzer. But when the dust had cleared, the Toros prevailed 3-2. It was great to see the smiles all around, and also to witness our group of kids gel and continue to improve. They should be proud of how far they've come as a team.

The victory was a tonic for the long (looooong), snow-clogged ride home. And, in retrospect, we were riding a silver lining fraught with gold: whilst the boys got their medal, that old bus could've broken down right in the middle of Sunday night's snow storm. Instead, everyone got home warm and safe. "Thanksgiving Classic" indeed: lots to be thankful for!

Go Toros!

Go Toros!
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